About Us

For most people if they want to take a trip overseas, they decide when they want to go and then book the trip. They can enjoy spontaneous holidays, a good friend’s wedding, or be at that funeral that they wouldn’t miss for the world.

However for handlers, we have many hurdles before us, and the hurdles are extreme. We are expected to go through up to 6 months preparation time for quarantine processes for our dogs, eliminating urgent or spontaneous travel.

But leaving our Assistance Dogs behind when we travel, compromises so much. It is like leaving our eyes, legs, ears, safety or security behind.

Imagine now the necessity of travel - medical reasons, natural disasters, family crises. Our options for urgent travel are severely restricted. 


Nina with Guide Dog Nixon

Visual description:

Holding and kissing my Guide Dog, Nixon.


I am Nina and this is my Guide Dog Nixon. I need Nixon to be my eyes in order to travel safely in the world. 

Last year I travelled from Australia to Japan and it took me almost 6 months to go through the legal hoops (quarantine) before I could. Not only did I have to muddle through Australia’s regulations, there were the Japanese ones too. There was so much paperwork. It was confusing, bureaucratic, intimidating and long -oh so long!

I searched high and low for Assistance Dog travel information but there was none. I felt very alone.


So, I came home, documented my learnings and started TravelPaws so that no other handler had to be alone in their travels.

Who we are

A lot of handlers are intimidated by the idea of travelling overseas. The TravelPaws vision is Travel-without barriers. 

We minimise the overwhelming experience that handlers must go through in understanding their obligations before travelling with their Assistance Dog. We exist to unravel the complex maze of information gathering, by picking out the essentials and presenting it in a clean, simple, digestible format.

TravelPaws is an international handler community: handlers of guide dogs, hearing dogs, medical alert dogs, PTSD service dogs, mobility dogs, autism assist and other Assistance Dogs. Our TravelPaws Facebook group provides the space for handlers to share travel tips and experiences.

We also campaign for the streamlining of government processes when travelling with an Assistance Dog. We hope for a day when veterinary-related travel costs are free, when urgent travel is possible and when our travel obligations are clear and simple.

We want everyone to have the opportunity to travel and explore the world...without barriers.

A handler should have no greater cost or hassle to travel than anyone else.

We are a community not a business and fund ourselves through donations. You can donate to us on GoFundMe

Our Volunteer Team



Leaders of the Pack

Image of Nina Smith

Nina Smith

Founder & Director

Image of Karen Cunningham

Karen Cunningham

Creative Assistant

Elaine Fraser

Veterinary Nurse Assistant 

Mel Meade

Travel Assistant

Cristian Rojas

Visual Comms Assistant


Dedication to my first Assistance Dog   Seeing Eye Dog, Walter

Walter, I miss you so much. Through you, I regained my independence, confidence, strength and resilience. It is impossible to describe what you gave me. You knew how to enjoy life. You lived it to the fullest; curious, honest, spontaneous, and free.  You helped me find the way to be these things myself. Through your final months, I nursed you through your illness.  Through your weakness, I learned to trust that I have something to give. You set me free.

- Nina


Visual description:

Seeing Eye Dog, Walter, lying down in harness.


Dedication to my current Assistance Dog    Guide Dog, Nixon

Nixon, you have shown me peace and the ability to live in the moment. I receive so much joy from who you are. You are loyal and affectionate and have eyes for only me. You are the gold star Guide Dog; I have 100% faith in what you do. You are so dependable. You have given me the security and safety to explore the world; the wings to fly. - Nina


Visual description:

Guide Dog, Nixon, lying down in harness.